Why a Large Digital Studio From Slovenia Uses October CMS

Posted in Case Studies on Dec 04, 2019

Today we are talking with Roman Krušič, a Senior Digital Consultant at a Slovenian digital studio named Spletna postaja. They have transitioned to October CMS 3 years ago and today October is their primary platform.

Spletna postaja is a rather big company - they have 28 employees. This is an experienced team of developers, designers, marketing and support specialists. Their clients range from small start-up companies in need of basic web design to large corporations requiring complex web applications. The company has planned, created and launched hundreds of successful websites since their inception, for many different types of businesses in Slovenia and Europe. Their projects cover a wide variety of web development services, such as website designs, simple website portfolios, blogs, e-commerce solutions, web applications, B2B systems, complex e-commerce platforms, and other custom-tailored services.

Early days - home-grown CMS

Like many other digital agencies, Spletna postaja has used its own CMS called Booster. The platform was developed around 2004, as Roman explains in those days every “real” web agency in Slovenia had their in-house CMS. The company had a specific idea of what a CMS should look like and there wasn't anything like that available on the open-source market back then. The intention was to create a user-friendly database editor that their clients could easily use.

Booster was perfectly satisfying the company’s needs for many years, however, there was a growing pile of issues. The codebase was huge and getting progressively harder to maintain. Other problems the team was facing include:

  • There was a huge legacy codebase to maintain, especially the core which included a framework and a CMS.
  • It didn’t use Composer, which made integrating 3rd party packages difficult.
  • All existing 3rd party components were getting outdated and were hard to update without significant changes to the core.
  • It didn’t have an ORM, making it harder to write good object-oriented code.
  • There were some security concerns since a lot of custom solutions were used in critical parts of the system.

Another serious issue was a lack of documentation and difficulties getting and training new developers who would be prepared to work on a legacy system.

With time it became clear that a solution is needed and the team started looking for alternatives.

Finding October CMS

The team came across October CMS during the online research (Google, GitHub), when searching for open source solutions based on Laravel framework that would support the company’s workflow. They were looking at open source alternatives that would support the kind of projects the company was working on. The development team had previous experience with Laravel framework. As Roman explains - at that time October CMS was (and still is) by far the most advanced CMS for Laravel and it seemed to fit their needs almost perfectly. A unanimous decision was made to make a gradual transition to October CMS.

One of the main requirements for a prospective platform was the flexibility and support for heavy custom development for the company’s clients. At the same time it needed to be well supported by the open-source community, making it possible for the team to focus on the development of the end features rather than maintaining the core. Good online documentation was also one of the main criteria, which proved particularly useful when training new junior developers.

October CMS fits all of that perfectly. Additionally, the fact that it is based on Laravel framework (which the team already had previous experience with) is a huge plus as well.

The transition

Transitioning to a new platform was a tough decision from both the business and technical perspectives. The biggest challenge was evaluating the transition in terms of the required time and cost. The team had to develop a lot of custom code to fully support all of our use-cases that were supported by the previous platform, while at the same time investigating new opportunities that a complete rewrite offered the team.

The toughest decision was between the two options - continue upgrading the old platform or do a complete rewrite. The complete rewrite was only ever an option in case the team used an open-source platform that would enable the company to move away from maintaining a custom framework and CMS and focus on the features. Luckily October CMS enabled them to do just that and they went into it fully aware that it’s a long-term decision.

The full transition took two years in total and was finalized in 2019 when all new projects were started using the October CMS codebase.

Happy with October CMS

After using October CMS for a few years the company sees many benefits of the transition. The biggest business-related advantage for the company was the ability to move away from maintaining their old platform and shift the focus to end-features requested by the customers. The other big advantage is the fact that October CMS has a modern codebase and comprehensive online documentation, which makes training new developers on the platform quicker and easier. A complete rewrite offered the team an opportunity to re-think some of the existing solutions and significantly improve upon them, making the company more competitive in the market.

The biggest advantage for their customers was a cleaner and more modern back-end experience, which makes them more comfortable managing their applications by themselves.

The reaction of the development team was in general very positive and they were all excited to make this new technology work for the clients:

October CMS has completely changed the way we develop websites for our clients. A well-designed plugin system enables us to quickly re-use the code from project to project while at the same time utilizing the code written by the community. The Builder plugin really pushes our ability to translate complex business requirements into code to another level. Our back-end developers love it because it feels familiar to anyone who ever worked with Laravel. And our front-end developers love the ability to use methods and tooling they are familiar with and never feel limited by the platform. We are looking forward to any new challenges our clients may throw at us and we feel well prepared with October CMS on our side.

Anže Časar, lead developer

From a developer’s perspective, working with October CMS is really outstanding. It's a perfect platform built on top of the trending PHP framework, Laravel. Development is not only simple, but it's also a really rapid and clean process regardless of whether the project is a simple website or a complex e-commerce solution. October is very well documented and it offers a simple way to extend its functionalities. I really recommend October to anybody who works in the web development industry.

Marko Kodrič, back-end developer

Since the transition, the company has built many websites on October CMS. Some of them include:

Good wishes for October CMS

We are very happy to see that October has a vibrant and growing community of users and are proud to be a part of that. While our use case doesn’t enable us to participate directly in the Marketplace (yet), we were excited to see that there are some other features coming to the platform that are very beneficial to our use cases as well, namely Private plugins & Themes, which we are currently evaluating. We acknowledge the good work the team is doing and are very excited about the future possibilities.

We, at October CMS, are happy to see businesses around the world benefit from using the platform. We are glad that the principle “Getting back to basics”, that we stick to from the early days of October CMS, finds acknowledgment and appreciation. We wish Spletna postaja future success and growth!

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